British Columbia

Paris climate talks at 'tipping point' says Vancouver mayor

The UN climate change conference in Paris is Vancouver’s chance to show off its progress in the effort to reduce greenhouse emissions, says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Delegations from 196 nations meeting in Paris to draft a new agreement on emission target

The Paris climate change conference is yet another international trip for Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson, who was invited to the Vatican and the White House earlier this year. (CBC)

The UN's Climate Change Conference in Paris is Vancouver's chance to show off its progress reducing greenhouse emissions, says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Delegations from 196 nations are meeting in Paris Monday to draft a new agreement on greenhouse emission targets.

Robertson joined Rick Cluff on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition to talk about the conference and Vancouver's role in settling refugees before he left for Paris.

Mayors from around the world will be planning and sharing best practices in Paris. What do you hope to take to the table as mayor of Vancouver?

I'm looking forward to sharing Vancouver's big success story. We've got a fairly unique story to tell here. We're a city that's been growing, significant growth. We're leading the country in economic growth right now, this year and projected over the next five years. So we're having unprecedented success economic at the same time we're growing our population.

The big story is that we've significantly reduced our climate pollution, our greenhouse gas emissions. Vancouver's gotten really unprecedented attention over this year and leading up to Paris.

You launched a climate action pledge yesterday, asking Vancouverites to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by living more green lifestyles. The federal government launched something similar in 2004, but it never gained much traction. What makes you think the public will respond differently this time?

We've definitely reached a tipping point of awareness about climate change and the impacts that it's having all over the world. We're seeing people choosing not to use cars like never before in Vancouver. We've seen a 20 per cent drop in the use of cars in Vancouver over the last 20 years. Over half of people in Vancouver get around by walking, biking and transit. So people are walking the talk now, like never before.

The devastation that's happening around the world caused by climate change is starting to mount up and we've got people making good choices in Vancouver. We just had over 200 businesses sign the business-climate pledge, which means they'll look at managing and reducing their emissions, that they support the city's goal to be 100 percent renewable and that they support the federal government of Canada taking bold action going into this climate summit.

I think it's important that our citizens have the opportunity to make that same climate pledge, to take action in their own lives and to advocate vigorously for change and leadership by all the governments.

What specific initiatives or policies do you want to see come out of this Paris conference?

We're all hopeful that there's going to be a very meaningful binding agreement by our national leaders. I'll be there with the prime minister heading there tomorrow morning. So November 30th is the day when national leaders are expected to sign a breakthrough agreement on fighting climate change. That's a key piece to come out of this.

What we need to do from there is how we make those changes, how we achieve the goals and targets that are being embraced. And a lot of that happens in the cities around the world. That's why mayors from all over the world are gathering — premiers and governors as well.

It's also a huge business gathering because all of these changes and commitments to fight climate change equal the biggest economic opportunity in the history of this planet. We're sending a team from Vancouver to be a part of that, to be bringing us forward as a Mecca for the green economy. We've done very well on this in recent years.

Syrian Refugees

We now know that B.C. is expecting to receive roughly 400 Syrian refugees by year's end, and another 1,500 before the end of February 2016. How many would be settling in Vancouver?  

We're expecting 400 here by the end of the year, half of those being government support and half being privately supported. We're expecting 1,700 more government supported refugees by the middle of February. We are co-ordinating best as we can with all the local service providers.

Housing will be a big issue. We've got to find the space, and make sure we have everything here in place so that the when the refugees arrive, they're supported. They can restart their lives here in a safe place and be a great part of this city.


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Vancouver mayor prepares for Paris conference.

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